Sunday, August 13, 2017

What’s Mine is Mine & What’s Yours is Mine

As I mentioned in my last post, my wife and I spent a lot of time enjoying the National Parks in the state of Utah while on vacation. Normally when we are on drives, we listen to a playlist of podcasts consisting of old and current episodes of Coverville, East Meets West, and Cracked. This gives us a nice variety.


Being that we were gone for more than two weeks, many of the podcasts we listen to on our own were piling up. Being rather anal myself, I listen to all of my podcasts in the order they come out, and do not miss an episode. As for my wife, she listens to hers as to whatever is current, and listens to older ones if she has time. So, in order to give us a bit of variety, my wife suggested we listen to some of the podcasts from my queue (No guys, you can’t have her. She’s all mine!).


One of the episodes we listened to was from the Cato Daily Podcast. Now, Cato is a libertarian (small “L”) think tank that covers a variety of topics with informative discussions. Or, as the site describes it, "The Cato Daily Podcast allows Cato Institute scholars and other commenters to discuss relevant news and libertarian thought in a conversational, informal manner." (Yeah, that's better.)


The episode that got my attention was called, “A Weak Defense of Property Rights at the Supreme Court” and is described as, “The Supreme Court’s Murr decision may leave many future property owners in the lurch when local and state governments decide to change laws governing property.” I’ve provided a link so that you can listen to it: https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/weak-defense-property-rights-supreme-court


Before your eyes glaze over and you stop reading, let me remind you of the title of this particular blog post: “What’s Mine is Mine & What’s Yours is Mine”.


In all of the different articles I’ve read and all of the podcasts I’ve listened to on the subject of property, not one has looked at it from this perspective: According to those in government, “What’s Mine is Mine & What’s Yours is Mine”.


According to the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


Do you see what it does NOT say? “...that among these are Life, Liberty, and Property.”


According to the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, October 1774:


“That the inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following Rights:

1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property, and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.”


On July 4, 1776 (almost two years after the above), Congress approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence (which was not signed until August 2, 1776).


Somewhere between October 1774 and July 1776, the clearly lifted phrase changed “property” to “the pursuit of Happiness”. Why?


There is much speculation from different historians, but what is clearly evident, is that those who set up our government did not consider property (outside of their own - most were wealthy land owners) to be a right of the people.


In other words, in the eyes of the government, you do not own anything. They do.


“Wait there, J.P., I own my house.”


Do you? First off, most don’t “own” their house. They have a long-term rental agreement with a bank. But even if you have paid off your mortgage in full, you do NOT own your home. You want proof? Stop paying your property taxes - or your income taxes. They will TAKE it from you. You pay the government “rent” (via taxes) in order to live in that home. You stop paying your rent, they will evict you and take it from you.


“Okay, maybe my home. But I own my car.”


Really? If you don’t purchase a license plate (or tags), or in many states, don’t have car insurance, you cannot drive the vehicle. And most cities have ordinances that state that you cannot have a vehicle that cannot be moved sitting on your property over a certain period of time. If so, it can be taken from you. So, as far as it being a vehicle of transportation that you own, without said taxes and fees paid, you do not have a vehicle of transportation. You pay for the right to have it.


“Okay, what about my X-Box? I own that, don’t I?”


Well, you have to consider the following proverb: What you own can be used to pay what you owe. If you stop paying “rent” (a.k.a “taxes”), the government can take what you own to pay what you owe. That includes your X-Box.


Even in death you can’t “take it with you”. Not because you can’t drive a U-Haul to heaven (because you can't), but because the government has a right to tax what you own. This is called an estate tax and is simply defined as a tax levied on the net value of the estate of a deceased person before distribution to the heirs.


Not only did you pay taxes when you made money. Not only did you pay taxes when you bought something with that money. You have to pay taxes AGAIN on the net value of what you have when you die before your kids have any right to it.


Why? Because, in the government's eyes, you DON’T OWN ANYTHING. It all belongs to them anyway.
Even the interest you earn can be subject to taxation.


So, when you hear a politician say that a tax cut would be taking income from the government, you’ll understand that they think that a perfectly reasonable conclusion.


But don’t worry. You have the right to pursue happiness. As long as it does not include property ownership.




© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

The last time I posted a blog was 20170619. That’s pretty shameful for a guy who writes for the purpose of keeping stress headaches at bay. But, like you, I’ve found that summer gets in the way and before you know it, seven weeks have gone by.

So, in honor of every third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grader who has to write a “What I Did Over Summer Vacation” report, I thought I’d fill in the gaps over this past seven weeks.

(If you read this blog for the political/religious brain dumps, come back next week. I promise to load your bucket!)

At the end of June my wife and I took an early morning flight out of Cleveland to Salt Lake City. The first part of our trip was a weekend at the Snowbird Resort for the annual (and perhaps final) Nerdtacular event.

View from the Cliff Lodge
Nerdtacular is a sort of miniature Comic Con, though it seems more like a family reunion. It’s made up of podcasters, gamers, cosplayers, artists, musicians, and general craziness. We had attended it back in 2014 and planned to go every other year. With 2016 being the 10th anniversary of Nerdtacular, the folks who run it (the same podcasters, gamers, cosplayers, artists, and musicians) decided to skip a year to make it a really big event. Check out the link for pictures, a much better description, and videos of some of the events (but come back to finish reading!): http://frogpants.com/nerdtacular


(If you check out the Live FilmSack video at around the 18:45 mark, they mention someone bringing the Blu-Ray version of the movie to the event. That person was ME!)

A picture of me and Scott Johnson, the chief nerd
The event ran from Thursday (an informal meet and greet) through the end of Saturday. When we were here in 2014 we stayed for an extra week at the Snowbird Resort and did day trips from there. This time we checked out of the hotel and drove to Cedar Creek, Utah for the second leg of our vacation.

Our intention was to visit the major National Parks in Utah. So, with our stay in Cedar Creek, we made trips to Cedar Breaks National Monument, Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon.

Cedar Breaks National Monument
Kolob Canyons
Zion National Park
Bryce Canyon
Next we drove over to Green River, Utah, in order to visit Arches National Park, Canyonland National Park (which I kept calling “CandyLand” by mistake. Honest!), and Capitol Reef.

Arches National Park
Canyonland National Park
Capitol Reef
The photos above aren’t even a glimmer into the beauty that these parks contain. Absolutely breathtaking. You gotta add it to your “bucket list” and then go check it off!

After a bunch of days hiking around in 100+ degree temperatures (it’s okay, “It’s a dry heat”), we made our way to Sandy, Utah for the last leg of our trip.

Not only did we celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary with a delicious dinner while there, we also spent an evening watching the Salt Lake City Bees (the Triple A minor league team for the Los Angeles Angels) play some baseball.

Me and my better half
We arrived back in Cleveland just after midnight on 20170718. The parking pass stated our car was there for 18 days and a little over 21 hours. A nice, long vacation.

The very next Sunday we got tickets to go see the Cleveland Indians play, so . . . you know . . . that was a no-brainer!


I almost forgot: I also brought home a souvenir from our trip. At first I thought my allergies were acting up, but allergy medicines didn’t relieve it. Then I thought it was turning into a cold, but cold medicines didn’t relieve it. After missing work, I went and got a Z-pack (antibiotics) which killed whatever it was I brought home. I prefer the National Park t-shirts we got instead.

Then last weekend my wife and I got to go to Toledo with some good friends to enjoy a Toledo Mudhens ballgame (Triple A minor league team for the Detroit Tigers) and a day at the Toledo Zoo.

We love our baseball!
Finally, the company I work for had its company picnic at Canal Park in Akron to watch an Akron RubberDucks ballgame (Double A minor league team for the Cleveland Indians).


And that’s about it. My summer vacation. I know, it’s only the beginning of August still, but when it comes to time off from writing, it’s over.

See you in the dugout!

©Emittravel 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Untitled Unblog Unpost #4

No post this week (outside of this post telling you that there isn't a post . . .)

Why? Because on Sunday, when I usually write, we were over my sister's house celebrating Father's Day and my brother-in-law's birthday. 

My father is 81 years old. 81. Somebody better tell him that. He still acts like a man who JUST retired.

What an awesome man. Still married to my mom. Still grandfather to wonderful grandchildren. Still an example of honor and integrity.

I know there are many who cannot say the same. To you I say, BE that person of honor and integrity. And if you are like me (without children), still BE that person of honor and integrity. Someone else's kid may need that example.

Happy Father's Day.

-j.p.

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It's a Beautiful Day at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

This week's blog is a little different. Instead of sitting down and writing, I've decided to go the video route. Normally I write to release some of the pressure in my head so that, like a pressure cooker, I don't blow my top. It's been a pretty stress-free week, so I decided to share a great day. Enjoy! -j.p.


















The title is a quote by Cleveland's own Tom Hamilton - sports radio announcer extraordinaire.

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Always Listen to Experts - and Do the Opposite

The other day I had a cordial, but short conversation with Anthony Carboni (https://twitter.com/acarboni) on Twitter that was brought on by a tweet he made in response to a tweet by Rick Santorum (https://twitter.com/RickSantorum), which was in response to a tweet from another person on Twitter. Believe me, it is less confusing than it sounds:

Santorum: Sad to be criticized by the left for something as obvious as solar (clouds & darkness) and wind (calm winds) are not reliable or consistent.

Carboni: My dude I am so excited to be the one to introduce you to batteries because they really are something special

Me: Just ignore what the creation and disposal of said batteries do to the environment. To make an omelet…

From there the conversation took some weird turns, primarily due to the fact that as one person was typing a tweet, the other person was replying to something different, so that when the next tweet arrived it was out of context of the conversation and just confused things. Anthony ended the conversation with:

Carboni: Okay, but that wasn’t the convo you started with me. So I’m gonna dip. Have a good one!

The big problem is that I’m incredibly slow when it comes to typing on my phone. I can’t hunt and peck, and using the “swipe” style always seems to bring up at least one or two words that I need to correct each time. Add to that that you are trying to formulate a coherent response in 140 characters (or less), knowing that the person you are responding to may already be sending multiple replies, makes using Twitter for intelligent conversations almost impossible.

Sigh…

Part of the conversation dealt with Anthony and I bringing up different facts to support our points, along with multiple points being made. Note I didn’t put the word facts in quotation marks. Because we BOTH were using facts to support our points. Just different facts.

And that is where I want to go in this post.

As Peter McWilliams said, “The media tends to report rumors, speculations, and projections as facts… How does the media do this? By quoting some ‘expert’ … you can always find some expert who will say something hopelessly hopeless about anything.”

Or:

As Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

(And the above Twain quote is also the title of a great episode of The West Wing.)

I’m a regular shmo. My formal education consists of high school, some training in the U.S. Navy, and various seminars through my job (administrative assistant). I like to read a lot, but I’m not a “college gradjeat”. But honestly, I don’t think having higher education helps much here.

As you are probably aware, today’s media, both social and corporate, inundate us with information. And like his predecessor before him, President Trump has had a field day calling news organizations “fake news”.

(If you don’t remember, President Obama went on a personal vendetta concerning Fox News.)

Then you have “experts” telling us what we should believe based on “science”. For instance, Bill Nye, who has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose fields include astrophysics and physical cosmology, are brought out as experts when it comes to the topic of climate change. Note that neither of these gentlemen are educated in climatology. Not that they haven’t done their research, but because of their popularity the very words they speak are considered “gospel”.

We’ve heard President Obama say that, concerning climate change, “The science is settled.” Last I looked, he did not have any background in the field either.

I’m not trying to make this a post about climate change; I’m using it as a good example of the issue at hand.

To break it down, we have been told over and over that “all” scientists believe in climate change. The basis for this is that 97% (not all) of scientists WHO WROTE PAPERS ABOUT MAN-MADE CLIMATE CHANGE believe that man has a significant impact upon global climate change. That means 3% of scientists WHO WROTE PAPERS ABOUT MAN-MADE CLIMATE CHANGE do NOT believe that man has a significant impact upon global climate change. This does NOT include those scientists who did NOT write papers. Nor is it stated that these scientists (though I do assume it is true) are indeed climatologists.

This means that “all” is a subset of scientists. I know, 97% is an awfully high number, but I always thought that science was not based on the “Popular Vote”.

Depending on which research you look at, you will find different information. That is based on several factors: What was the data the researchers used (or avoided)? For WHAT was the scientists trying to prove or disprove? And WHO was paying for the study?

The company I work for has a group called Business Analytics. I’ve been in meetings with these guys and they will take data and pull amazing information and trends out of it, all depending on how they slice and dice the data.

Which brings me to my point. For ANY topic of discussion, each person not only has to do their homework, but also has had to do the SAME homework, in order to come to any understanding in a conversation. And that is the hard part.

Not only would you need to research climate change (by the way, to paraphrase an interview with Rand Paul, “How much of climate change is natural, and how much is man-made?” Give me cold, hard numbers. What is the percentage? And does the money needed to eliminate the man-made portion REALLY going to even make a dent?), but you would need to research EVERY statement you hear (please see the Peter McWilliams and Mark Twain quotes above).

And frankly, I don’t have the time. It’s not that I don’t care; I don’t have the time.

To thoroughly research EACH statement you would need to look at ALL studies, determining the what, where, why, how, and who (paid for the studies), sift out the truth from the hype, and make an informed decision.

And that, my friends, is next to impossible (unless you have all the time and money in the world).

So to Anthony Carboni, if you are even reading this, whom I highly respect and like: just because you can out argue the arguments, does NOT mean that you are right. But please, PLEASE don’t stop! I learn so much from you.

Now excuse me while I go do some serious Indians baseball watching.

(The title is a paraphrase of a great quote by Robert A. Heinlein: “Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.”)


© Emittravel 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Better Than Baseball?

It’s Memorial Day weekend in 2017. On Sunday the Cleveland Indians finished off a three game series at home against the Kansas City Royals. They lost the first two games (6 - 4 and 5 - 2). However, on Sunday they stomped the Royals with a final score of 1 - 10. You’d think that I would have been glued to my seat, beer and salt roasted peanuts on hand, for every swing of the bat. If you thought that, you’d be wrong.

You see, Sunday was also the day of our annual Memorial Day picnic (we set up on Saturday, have the picnic on Sunday, and try to recover on Monday). So, instead of watching the game, I was enjoying the company of 29 close family and friends as we ate, laughed, shared, and everything else one does when they are with close family and friends.

We got just over 3" of rain - didn't dampen the event!

So, even though I love baseball, and would have loved to watch Josh Tomlin pitch the entire game, instead I was doing what so many were unable to do: spend time with close family and friends. And the reason so many were unable to, was the very reason for this day: they gave their very lives defending US (not just the “U-nited S-tates” but we our very selves).

It is for those who wore helmets that we take off our hats; for those whose hands held rifles that we hold our hands on our hearts; for those fallen that we stand.

To paraphrase the book of Numbers: May the Lord bless you, keep you; may His face shine upon you, and give you ULTIMATE peace.

Thank you.

(The ball players gave honor to the fallen as well. This was not meant as a negative to those who play the game.)



© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

One of the biggest gripes I hear when talking to people about the love of baseball is that it is such a LONG season. But you have to understand:

Baseball is more than 162 games played in a year.

It is more than a three-game series.

It is more than nine innings in a game.

It is more than three outs in an inning.

It is more than four balls or three strikes in an up at bat.

Baseball is each pitch of the ball; each swing of the bat. For with each pitch, with each swing, an entire game can change. The needed momentum to pull a struggling team up from the bottom to the top can take place with that single strike out, or that single hit of the ball.

According to Gerrit Maus of UC Berkeley, a fastball takes .4 seconds to reach home plate after it leaves a pitcher's hand, but a hitter needs a full .25 seconds to see the ball and react. “Light hits our eye and the information needs to get to our brain. That takes a tenth of a second.”

Baseball is where everything hinges on that moment when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand and what the batter does or doesn’t do with it when it reaches him.

Is a baseball season long? My God yes. My only wish is that the season could be even longer.

© Emittravel 2017